Move Your Hand was recorded live at Club Harlem in Atlantic City on August 9, 1969. Organist Lonnie Smith led a small combo – featuring guitarist Larry McGee, tenor saxist Rudy Jones, bari saxist Ronnie Cuber, and drummer Sylvester Goshay – through a set that alternated originals with two pop covers, the Coasters' "Charlie Brown" and Donovan's "Sunshine Superman." Throughout, the band works a relaxed, bluesy, and, above all, funky rhythm; they abandon improvisation and melody for a steady groove, so much that the hooks of the two pop hits aren't recognizable until a few minutes into the track.
Now! is one of Bobby Hutcherson's most adventurous recordings. Cut with the Harold Land Quintet in 1969, Hutcherson augments the lineup with vocalist the Right Reverend Eugene McDaniels (then Gene McDaniels) and a chorus at the height of Black Power consciousness. While this band may not appeal to straight hard and post-bop listeners who prefer their music instrumentally, it is a compelling and even stunning record if accepted on its own terms. The compositions reflect the tightrope Hutcherson and Land walked on their earlier outings together between post-bop and vanguard jazz. The interplay between Hutcherson and Stanley Cowell's 's piano in the instrumental passages in "Slow Change" is so intuitive and symbiotic it may slip by the listener who is not paying attention.
After a long hiatus from the record shelves, the turbaned Dr. Lonnie Smith – along with guitarist John Abercrombie and drummer Marvin "Smitty" Smith – sets his sights upon John Coltrane, turning in five 'Trane tunes plus Mongo Santamaria's "Afro-Blue" and a grooving Smith tribute, "Traces of Trane." The propulsive title track is mostly dominated by Abercrombie, while "Impressions" continues the driving pace as Lonnie sprays Hammond B-3 organ notes all over the place with constant brief call-and-response dialogues with himself.
One of the funkiest albums ever on Blue Note – a set that mixes the trumpet talents of Blue Mitchell with some killer backings from Monk Higgins – all in a groove that more gritty edges than the best funky soundtracks of the time! Higgins keeps the backings full, but always quite lean – fusing all elements together into a sharp, tight rhythm that steps along with some of the slight African touches you might guess from the title – a groove that's not really that authentic, but which resonates with some of the best inspirations that Hugh Masekela was bringing to American music at the time.
Smith's superb keyboard technique is only half of his musical magic. The other is his astonishing ability to paint atmospheres and create exquisite moods. The feeling of this album is perfectly evinced, relaxed and cool, spacious yet textured and sophisticated enough to keep the ear consistently intrigued. The album's title and cover photo are an homage to a soul food diner in Harlem called Kate's Home Cooking, and the tunes parallel a range of subtle, carefully prepared flavors.
This CD reissue brings back an important transitional album for tenor-saxophonist Wayne Shorter. Doubling on soprano (which he had recently begun playing), Shorter interprets five of his originals (including "Water Babies" which had been recorded previously by Miles Davis) and Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Dindi."
There is no mistaking the influence of the great Gil Evans on Herbie Hancock's THE PRISONER. The dark textures, the creative voicings, and the way in which Hancock assembles his arrangements are evocative of Evans' work with the pianist's former boss, Miles Davis. However, Hancock does more than pay homage here, as he exercises yet another aspect of his exceptional musicianship and applies it to the large ensemble format he had begun to approach on his previous date, SPEAK LIKE A CHILD.
Not just an album of interpretations, King Kong: Jean-Luc Ponty Plays the Music of Frank Zappa was an active collaboration; Frank Zappa arranged all of the selections, played guitar on one, and contributed a new, nearly 20-minute orchestral composition for the occasion. Made in the wake of Ponty's appearance on Zappa's jazz-rock masterpiece Hot Rats, these 1969 recordings were significant developments in both musicians' careers. In terms of jazz-rock fusion, Zappa was one of the few musicians from the rock side of the equation who captured the complexity – not just the feel – of jazz, and this project was an indicator of his growing credibility as a composer. For Ponty's part, King Kong marked the first time he had recorded as a leader in a fusion-oriented milieu (though Zappa's brand of experimentalism didn't really foreshadow Ponty's own subsequent work).
Hard, heavy, and funky jazz -- a wealth of great numbers pulled from the Blue Note catalog, plus a few tasty soul tunes thrown into the mix to liven things up! Many of these tunes will be familiar to experienced crate-diggers -- but that doesn't stop the set from being an excellent package of grooves overall, featuring some late 60s/early 70s jazz gems that are quickly dropping out of the reissue catalogs! Titles include "Groovin For Mr G" by Groove Holmes, "The Beat Goes On" by Buddy Rich, "Walking In My Sleep" by Monk Higgins, "Zulu" by Gene Harris, "It's Your Thing" by The Jazz Crusaders, "Wack Wack" by Buddy Rich, ""Walk Tall" by Howard Roberts, "Listen Here" by Gene Harris, "Ummh (edit)" by Bobby Hutcherson, "Move Your Hand" by Lonnie Smith, and "Back In Stride" by Maze. 13 tracks in all!